In an increasingly globalized world, US companies depend on employing immigrants as scientists, engineers, doctors, and other service and support staff in a variety of industries. The flexibility and productivity of US companies depend on successfully recruiting and retaining immigrants whose skills and qualifications either exceed those available in the domestic labor market or who are abundantly available and required to balance market demand. Tighter and more restrictive immigration policies can pose significant risks for investors and threaten to reduce the availability and flexibility of a skilled and able workforce, with negative consequences for economic growth and investor returns. Shareholders must question company policies toward immigrant labor, especially with respect to hiring immigrants, providing resources to legally defend immigrant workers, and political spending priorities that appear to be inconsistent with the company’s reliance on immigrant workers or customers.
The Just Transition project aims to address the social dimension of the transition from a high carbon to a low carbon economy with a focus on workers and communities that are left behind in this transition. The Principles for Responsible Investment, the London School of Economics, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the International Trade Union Confederation will develop an action plan to tackle this issue, identifying the role that investors can play in this transition. The project has released reports urging investors to focus on the social dimension to climate change and provides information on ways investors can contribute to a just transition.
The reports are available here:
Currently over 1000 cases have been filed by states, municipalities, cities and health plans and consolidated in front of a federal judge in Ohio to determine the role of opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy retailers in the growing U.S. opioid epidemic. These developments have industry watchers drawing parallels to the tobacco litigation of two decades ago and the master settlement, which cost the cigarette industry hundreds of billions of dollars. Investors are increasingly concerned about the scrutiny companies in the healthcare sector face over their failure to disclose the addictive nature of opioids and prevent widespread abuse of these drugs. In response to escalating legal, reputational and financial risks presented by the opioids epidemic, a group of over 40 faith based funds, asset managers, public and labor funds, and state treasurers with over USD 2.2 trillion in AUM formed the Investors for Opioid Accountability coalition to advocate for improved accountability in the healthcare industry.
A responsible contractor policy supports fair wages and fair benefits for workers employed by contractors and subcontractors and ensures observance to all local, state, and federal labor laws. Companies that have these kinds of policies are less likely to face unnecessary turnover and labor disruptions and more likely to experience improved workforce stability. A strong and responsible contractor policy in general reduces the operational, reputational, and legal costs for the company and aligns financial performance with long-term shareholder value.
Examples of good contractor policies are as follows:
- National Employment Law Project’s Responsible Contracting: Best Practices
- California Public Employees Retirement System’s Responsible Contractor Policy is applicable to real estate and infrastructure investments
- California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s Responsible Contractor Policy is applicable to real estate and infrastructure investments
- The New York City Employees’ Retirement System’s Responsible Contractor Policy in the private real estate and private infrastructure asset class
- The New York State Common Retirement Fund’s Responsible Contractor Policy applicable to equity real estate and infrastructure investments.